CANMORE – The team is greater than the individual player.
For the U13 A RHL Canmore Eagles, they're giving a stick salute to its larger team across the country who helped the local hockey squad place in the top-three in the 2021 Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, winning $5,000 in support of Rocky Mountain Adaptive (RMA).
“This has to be something that sticks with this group for a long time – maybe a lifetime – of what you can do, working together,” said head coach Sean Kjemhus.
“We can’t thank people enough. That really resonated with our group with just how much support we got locally, and the province."
Finishing first was the Victoria Admirals. The other top three finalist was the Cape Breton County Islanders.
Announced on Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday (March 20), the country watched on as three minor teams acted to make their communities better for a chance at $100,000 grand prize for a charity.
Named as one of 11 national finalists this year, the U13 A Eagles were the first local team to be named a finalist over the five-year existence of the Good Deeds Cup. The program asks minor hockey teams across Canada to pitch a 30 second to one-minute video of a good deed idea.
The public votes for the top videos, which had many across the province pouring in support for the little Eagles and their bid to win by helping get the word out, including the Calgary Flames, along with stars Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau.
“I can just imagine being 12 or 13 years old and having these people cheer for you team, right?” said Kjemhus. “And it certainly validated it for us; this is a bigger deal than any score of a hockey game or any champ at this age. This was big."
During the anticipation of Hockey Night in Canada, the Eagles had a group Zoom meeting on, with the young players glued to the tube waiting for the announcement.
Before the $100,000 grand-prize winner announcement, the top three finalists were introduced on national broadcast.
“It became very real,” said Kjemhus. “Just seeing the kids faces on Zoom, I said a couple times ‘hey, it’s OK to breath here.’ You could just see the anxiety and the excitement growing, so certainly a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the group from start to finish.”
Finishing top-three in the country, the Eagles’ community-based initiative earned $5,000 in support of RMA, which removes barriers in sport and recreation for those living with physical and cognitive disabilities.
The short video featured the young Bow Valley players promoting RMA and excitedly yelling the charity’s motto “no limits.”
“Every parent had a story to tell about a friend or someone they knew that was hugely invested with Rocky Mountain Adaptive, or hugely invested in our initiative, and to hear all that support really made you feel proud,” said Kjemhus.
With over 20 sports and recreational activities available across the Bow Valley year-round with specialized equipment and programming, RMA provides up to 2,000 adaptive experiences annually during its multi-week or specialized sessions.
“I want to really highlight our community here. I truly don't think we can thank you all enough for every share, every vote or like or comment,” said Alana MacLeod, RMA's community outreach coordinator. “Knowing we have the support of this beautiful community is the greatest thing to come out of this and I can say that means more to us than the money. We welcome any future support in helping us continue to make the mountains more accessible for all to enjoy and, of course, encourage everyone to get involved in our upcoming fundraisers, EndurAbility and ForeAbility."